For lots of reasons, the arrival of my youngest child has been a different experience for me. First of all, and let’s get this right out front to begin with, I was old when he was born, nearly 41. Not that this is anything unusual for my family, of course; my mother was pushin’ 40 when my twin sisters were born, and my sister-in-law Donna recently carried on the tradition by bringing Elias into the world right around the 40 mark. And just for fun, we can also mention my dad’s youngest sister, born when I was around 5 years old. So we’ve got that going for us in the Baker family: Extreme Reproduction. I can see it as the latest reality show. Honestly, are there many more obscure niches of human behavior left to exploit?
Probably the most obvious, however, is that Trassie is the child my husband, Tras, and I have together. It’s the first time ’round the parenting block for Tras and he hopped on this particular tricycle at the awe-inspiring age of 51. And, God bless us, it’s been a very, very good thing.
Have you ever seen a look of more pure happiness, I ask you?
On a less dramatic level, operationally speaking, having him around is a lot different than when Claire and Christopher were young. They’re just two and a half years apart, while Claire’s a full decade older than Trassie. So basically I was simultaneously lactating and wrangling middle-schoolers, though of course not at the same time.
So we’ve got being married to someone different, being older and wiser (and achier) — and that rather undefinable factor of being a little more relaxed when your third kid rolls around. Add to that logistics — how your day runs has a lot to do with where your kids have to be and when, and it happens, at least in my case, that you wind up eating at McDonald’s every morning with the Old Codgers Coffee Clatch.
(They look a little surprised, don’t they? I did ask them permission, but they were more interested in asking me if I was an investigative reporter tracking down the latest ACORN scandal. Consequently no one was composed when I started snapping. Ha!)
So anyway, back to logistics, we have about 15 minutes to spare in the morning before we can drop Trassie off to preschool, so we while away some time at the happy place while The Master consumes a Cinnamon Melt, hash brown and a juice box, mostly while we look on hungrily and look forward to the homemade Irish oatmeal I’ve got waiting in the fridge for us at work. I know, it’s hard to compete with sugar, lard and cinnamon, but we do, in fact, like it.
Actually, I’m doing my familial duty by going to McDonald’s this frequently. Growing up, it was practically part of our religion to eat at McDonald’s — at least when we were in Louisville, because Carrollton didn’t get one until I had grown up and moved away. The nerve. But we always ate there, not because my Uncle Bruce owned a McDonald’s in Newport but because, as it gradually dawned on me as I aged, Pappy owned stock in McDonald’s and if we were eating out, by golly, that’s where we ATE.
Not that anyone complained, of course. Back in the innocent ’60s and ’70s, McDonald’s wasn’t nearly the all-consuming marketing force of nature it is today — but it did have that undeniable hamburger-and-fry pull children of all ages find it difficult to resist. And the Hamburgler.
When Christopher was this age, I was commanded to procure a Hershey bar for him from the SuperAmerica every day between kindergarten and daycare. The fact that delicious mocha lattes were also available is beside the point. And when Claire was a wee preschooler, she required a serving of pancakes and juice while she sat in the miniature Boston rocker (the very same rocker upon which I perched at that same age) and consumed her morning helping of Barney & Friends while we chatted and I got ready for work.
Such sweet, fleeting memories. And in just a few months, our morning stop at McDonald’s will also be just such a memory. But like the last forkful of Cinnamon Melt or nibble of hash brown Tras and I sometimes sneak when Trassie proclaims, “I’m full!” — these McDonald’s mornings are experiences we’re savoring. We’re old enough to know they’re memories to last a lifetime.